tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC February 20, 2013 1:00am-1:59am PST
saddam hussein even before 9/11, ends sunday! and they used 9/11 as an excuse to go after him right away. or treat gas with these after you get it. was bush, you know, in that now that's like sunblock before or sun burn cream later. camp? was it personal because of what happened with his father? oh, somebody out there's saying, now i get it! his father not finishing off the take beano before and there'll be no gas. job? after 9/11, did he just feel the need to be proactive, to do something to show the country he as always, i rely on gail's love and support and that of our was willing to take a risk with two lovely daughters. the lives of others, of course. so i want to thank them for their help, as well. >> what shocked you the most? >> and go along with the neocon plan. >> i got to get this in. david, what shocked you the most about doing your research on and just in case anybody who is watching throughout the country, this? >> there was one story in the yes, they're both available. book that we didn't get on last no, no, no. night because it's kind of convoluted. there was a woman named lori milroy, really a conspiracy no -- only kidding, only theory who said for years had said saddam hussein was the puppet master behind al qaeda. al qaeda was nothing. it was all saddam hussein. and paul wolfowitz, the number kidding. two in the defense department only kidding, only kidding. totally bought her theories, even though the cia and the fbi kept saying she was full of you know what.
and even after 9/11, he kept arianna definitely is not available, but aylar is. saying to everyone, read this book. she knows what she is talking about. this should be a basis of our >> stop. policy. and the fact that it actually >> this is arianna. and this is ayla. became the basis for our policy, and a fellow who is said to be as part as paul wolfowitz who would really become the victim of a conspiracy theorist is still shocking to me today. and i would love another ten minutes in the documentary to work through that. well, i -- i can see i'm going >> is there follow-up work here on your part? >> well, mike and i, mike to get in trouble when i get home. isikoff, we're always talking about the next project and what >> some activity today in the else we can get. race for john kerry's recently i thought the documentary got vacated senate seat in massachusetts. some new stuff in. and hopefully we can keep finding more. a new poll out from [ applause ] you know, this is history, and history is always changing. shows congressman ed markey but i think the more we go through this, as larry wilkerson beating steven lynch for the said in the documentary, there primary. is more and more evidence that this was a hoax. >> and, again, david corn, congratulations on getting the the special election will be george polk award. the 47%, that tape, your story arguably turned the tide for the held in june. obama team in the 2012 election. congratulations. and great work on this as well. politico reports that former governor eliot spitzer will hold a fundraiser for ed markey next thank you. month, republicans are using >> thank you so much, ed. >> you bet. that against him, the republicans are calling for him that's "the ed show." i'm ed schultz. to withdraw. rachel maddow starts right now. rachel, tremendous job last night. and the big story continues to
be the one that got away. >> thank you, ed. thank you for being so effusive about it. but also for focusing so much on the republican who decided not issues at the heart of it. you've been really, really kind. to run. >> well, it was jaw-dropping. >> yeah. perhaps the earliest indication >> you know, you almost feel guilty living through that period. that recently ousted senator scott brown was not going to run but there were voices on the in that special election to try to return to the senate was a left, only 23 in the senate that series of tweets he posted after came up with a very courageous midnight one weekend in january. vote. i hope it's a lesson to america misspelled and pugnacious little for generations to come. great work, my friend. >> thank you. i really appreciate it, ed. tweets, including this recent thanks a lot. and thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. classic. as ed mentioned, last night we did air this new msnbc which the scholars believe is documentary on why the iraq war pronounced? happened. and he decided there after to it has sparked a lot of discussion, particularly the new not run for senate again, the reporting in the film. we've had a lot of feedback on tweets probably would have been it. i'm really glad we did it. we're now talking about just the last thing to have hopefully reairing it some more times on msnbc. happened in the public eye but a lot of people have been asking specifically about the considering scott brown. the problem is he believes he timing. may run for something else. why do this now. well, we specifically did not and in the local interview in time the new documentary to which scott brown said he would coincide with the anniversary of run for governor of the invasion of iraq. massachusetts, he also had to the invasion of iraq of course talk to? in march 19th, 2003.
the invasion of iraq and the war in iraq are obviously a big deal >> how about that tweeting and a specific thing that is thing? >> anybody ever hear of a pocket tweet, a dial, i mean it was worth examining in its own right. pretty simple. but what we did with "hubris" i have an iphone 5, and if anybody has an iphone 5, okay, was not tell the story of the the keys are small. iraq war, but rather the story so very, very sensitive. of what made us start that war. ayla was teaching me how to so we didn't peg to it the obviously get on facebook and ten-year anniversary of the twitter and there were areas i invasion, we pegged it earlier than that. didn't really understand. we pegged it to the lying to us by our own government that made after her concert, we were here in the living room. that invasion possible. and responded to a couple of and that irreducible truth, that people. we were told by our government and then put it in my pocket, the next thing i wake up -- that we had to go to war because of things they said were true about the world that were not >> becomes a news story, scott. true about the world, that >> trended worldwide. irreducible truth is the most >> so you're saying it was just important thing about the a mistake? presidency that preceded this one. >> well, what would it be? what am i randomly pressing and unless the revisionist historians get their way, that numbers? truth will be in the first line >> what else would it be? of the obituary of each of those senior members of the bush administration when they so simple, i have a pocket, a eventually depart from this earth. phone, you do the math. and that sets up a really it cannot be that was in any interesting thing for us now in way, you know, not with it. 2013 in terms of how that >> first of all, i rarely drink. relatively recent political the last time i was ever drunk was my bachelor party, that was
history from ten years ago and what? 28 years ago, or 27 years ago. our understanding of that recent so i guess no one has ever political history affects our pocket dialled or tweeted current debates now over policy before. now. >> yeah, senator brown, people because still among us, still have pocket dialled and tweeted before. out there available for comments, of course, are the senior officials of the previous but your thing does not look like a pocket dial. administration who purposed that deception ten years ago. it looks specially like a really badly misspelled of the word whatever which you were in the that's why the kicker of "hubris," the kicker of the middle of tweeting to people film, essentially, the last line over the weekend, apparently on lands with such a thud. purpose, both before and after because even after leaving office, president george w. bush the alleged pocket dial. was still saying about the war this is what you may expect a in iraq you know what? pocket-dialled tweet to look i don't think i did anything wrong. like. this happened to congressman keith ellison a year ago, we don't know what type of phone he had, but he sat right near the >> was there ever any consideration of apologizing to keys next ac the american people? >> i mean, apologizing would basically say the decision was a wrong decision. and i don't believe it was a wrong decision. >> that interview with matt lauer took place in november 2010. after he was out of office. i do not know if. george w. bush still feels that way.
try not to read too much into the reports that former president bush now spends his time painting oil portraits of himself, trying to get, self portrait in shower, self-portrait in bathtub. maybe that's just a coincidence. maybe he is not trying the get clean. maybe he to get saddam's nuclear weapons. we know that vice president dick cheney still believes that. but the country no longer believes that. some of the post-9/11 national security changes that we made as a country obviously persist. there is still a department of homeland security there is still this new treatment of the cia as if it is a branch of the military there is still a patriot act. but much of what president barack obama has done over the last four years heading into now his second term has been systematically undoing some of the major decisions of the george w. bush years. for example, the only decision
and accomplishment of president obama's first term that is ranked more popular with the american people than killing osama bin laden, the only thing more popular than that was his decision to end the war in iraq. within days of taking office, president obama also issued an executive order, making clear that anything the previous administration did to cast some pseudo legal veneer over torture, that was over. that executive order made clear that torture was and is illegal. the president also ordered that the cia stop operating secret prisons around the world. after moving quickly, as i mentioned in the war in iraq, the new president also moved eventually toward ending the war in afghanistan as well. the end of that war is still ahead, but it is on its way. there is, though, one vestige of the previous administration that it's not only remarkable that it's still around, it's remarkable that it's still around because everybody thought it would be gone by now. everybody left, right, and center thought it would be again not just by now, but they thought it would be gone early
on in the first term of the obama presidency. one of the things that we decided to do as a country after 9/11 that we had never done before is something that everybody expected to be dialed back very quickly by the new administration. nobody expected it to survive. but it is still here, and it is why we have this. this is a prison in illinois that has nobody in it. it's on 140 acres near the mississippi river. it is surrounded by an electrified fence that is capable of carrying 7,000 volts. it has hundreds of surveillance cameras. it has hundreds of motion detectors. it has armed inner perimeter towers. it has armed outer perimeter towers. it is a state-of-the-art maximum security prison built in 2001 and nobody is home. nobody is this. this prison was originally built to be used by the state of illinois, which never had the money to run it and has never put anybody in it. by 2009, when we got our new president, and he said two days
after taking office that guantanamo bay prison was going to close, this prison in thompson, illinois, supposedly won the george w. bush isn't president anymore maximum prisoner lottery. congratulations, thompson, illinois. everybody knew that guantanamo was going to close. in the 2008 presidential campaign, it was not just barack obama who was in favor of closing guantanamo. the guy from the other party who he ran against was also in favor of closing guantanamo, as also planning to do so. >> i believe we should close guantanamo and work with our allies. >> it was just barack obama and john mccain who said that they would close guantanamo if they became president. it was also the guy who was still president, the guy who had opened up guantanamo in the first place. >> i'd like to end guantanamo. i'd like it to be over with. >> everybody knew that guantanamo was going to close. there was nobody against it. the prisoners who were still there when barack obama became president, well, the expectation
was that a lot of them would continue to be processed the way that hundreds of them had already been processed by president george w. bush, which is that they would be sent to some other country. they would be repatriated. for the prisoners that were not going to be released anywhere for say the marquee prisoner who was ever held at guantanamo, khalid sheikh mohammed, the expectation for guys like him was they wouldn't get out of off juror pseudo limbo in cuba. they would get off that legal limbo that we hold in this prison offshore in a communist country that we don't have relations with and get out of that limbo and come here and face justice. attorney general eric holder announced november 2009 that khalid sheikh mohammed, the planner of the 9/11 attacks would face trial. he would be treated like a terrorist, like the blind sheik had been treated, abdel al rahman, or zacarias moussaoui.
they were all convicted in u.s. courts and are currently in prison at federal maximum security facilities across the country. we as a country have experience prosecuting, convicting, and housing for life very dangerous people, including international terrorism suspects. that's why thompson, illinois, had competition when they said they want these guys. that's why thompson, illinois, had to compete with places like hardin, montana, and standish, michigan when they decided to seek the relatively lucrative labor intensive business of locking these guys up in their maximum security prison. and that's why the city of new york initially greeted the news of khalid sheikh mohammed's forthcoming trial at the scene of his crime as not just justice, but poetic justice. and then we lost our nerve. what happened? the politics of the past administration or something decided to come back. new york officials who initially responded to the khalid sheikh mohammed announcement day saying yes, let's do it. it's fitting that he face trial here where he killed so many
americans. we can handle it. we are not afraid that was the initial response. but then they changed their minds and decide they'd were against it. in illinois, a republican congressman who was running for senate, who eventually won, he decided to change his campaign website to noterroristsinillinois.com. don't send those guys to thompson, never mind that the state was excited to win that contest. and the whole thing unravelled. and then it fell apart. and that was in late 2009, early 2010. it was more than three years ago now when that plan fell apart. and since that time, nobody, no new prisoners have been added to guantanamo. there are still 170 some odd prisoner there's. the president still says he wants to close guantanamo. we're still just as capable of trying and imprisoning terrorism suspects as we were before when the plan fell apart. maybe we're even more so now as we have tried and convicted even more terrorism suspects in the past three years, including the times square bomber, faisal
shahzad and abdul farouk abdulmutallab. but the frustration of this previous administration lingers on. when it comes to fixing what went wrong in that era, this is not all that complicated an issue. the plan to close it was fairly simple. the only reason it didn't happen is that congress, elected officials, democrats and republicans freaked out and decide they'd were scared of their own shadow back in 2009 and 2010, and then congress acted to say no, no, no, the president can't do this. they decided to not do what everyone left, right and center had previously agreed needed to be done and would be done. and so we just got stuck by dent of congress keeping this open from the previous administration with no plan of keeping it open other than hoping the prisoners might die of their own accord if we leave them there long enough. it's not 2009 or 2010 anymore. a lot that is in our politics feels different now in 2013 than it felt in 2009.
is this still impossible? and is anyone still working on it? i should also mention that quietly, very quietly, a couple of weeks before the election in october, the obama administration decided to do an end-run around congress when it comes to that big empty prison in thompson, iose, just in case purpose might include putting prisoners from guantanamo there. but on october 2nd, quietly the department of justice wrote a check to illinois for $165 million to buy that maximum security prison. that prison that once upon a time was going to be guantanamo north, and everybody thought that was a great idea. it isn't scheduled to be guantanamo north anymore. nothing is. but why couldn't it be? i mean, george w. bush does not admit that invading iraq was the wrong decision. but even he admitted along time ago that guantanamo was a mistake that should be shut down. why is it still open? joining us now is jonathan hafetz.
thanks for being here. >> my pleasure. >> i am making the process of what it would take to close guantanamo simpler than what it would be than what be the dispensation of all of the prisoners. if congress changed its mind, though, and decided to stop the administration from blocking it, that plan that they work working on in 2009 and 2010, could they still do it? >> absolutely. the main obstacle now is the political obstacle and the legal obstacle, the legislation that congress has put in place that bars the transfer of any guantanamo detainee to the united states for any purpose, federal trial, or even continued detention. so once if that legislation were to stop, the administration could bring detainees here. in addition, it's important to mention that approximately half of the prisoners at guantanamo, over 80 of the prisoners there
have been cleared for release by the administration. so these are people the administration says we don't even want to hold anymore. but congress has placed significant restrictions on transferring them to their home countries or third countries which makes it difficult to close guantanamo for that reason as well. >> it is overstating the case right now to say that the path that we are on, if no further action is taken, is actually to just hope that those prisoners die and thereby the problem goes away? >> we are on a -- it's a spiral of inertia. we are the -- the only way to get out of guantanamo at this moment, there are two ways, to be blunt. you can either die in the prison, or you can be convicted by a military commission for war crimes and be given a sentence, which in many cases, except for the 9/11 perpetrators might just be the time you have served, and you get sent home. you can either die and/or be convicted as a war criminal and get out that way. otherwise you're really fated for legal limbo.
>> if you were a prisoner or a lawyer for a prisoner who was facing legal dispensation, you were in this situation, looking at the history of terrorism prosecutions in the united states versus military prosecutions for war crimes, what tends to produce a stricter sentence and a more i guess a more reliable path to a guilty verdict for the prosecution? >> there is no question about it, federal courts are -- produce a fair trial, but they also produce severe sentences for those who are convicted. but right now we've got khalid sheikh mohammed, the most important terrorism suspect probably in the history of the united states being tried in a proceeding at guantanamo that really resembles a circus. it's just come out that the military has been listening. they have devices in the rooms where the lawyers interview their clients, and they're equipped with listening devices. and the commander of the prison apparently didn't even know about it. so this is our marquee federal
criminal trial from 9/11, the most important trial, and we elected to go with a court that is untested, untried as opposed to the established federal courts which deliver justice in a fair way. >> in terms of recent terrorism prosecutions, i mentioned faisal shahzad, abdul farouk abdulmutallab, some of the other international, or at least al qaeda-minded terrorism suspects who have been prosecuted in federal courts. did anything happen in the prosecution of any of those suspects or anybody else like them in recent years that should raise the doubts of the courts' ability to handle a trial like that? >> absolutely not. the federal courts are equipped. they have experienced defense bar, the prosecution, the judges. they're used to handling these cases. obviously issues come up. they're difficult issues, but they deal with them. and the process has integrity. it's a bona fide process. >> centuries in the making. jonathan hafetz, seton hall professor, author of "habeas corpus after 9/11," thank you for helping us figure this out.
i really appreciate it. >> thank you. >> i do find that amazing that that hasn't gone away. here is a zen question. if president obama played a round of golf with tiger woods this weekend and the white house press corps was not permitted to cover it, did it really happen? and do you give a rat's patoot in whether you got to cover it? lessons in inflated self-humility, coming up next. they're like a clean team. did you see mr. clean disinfecting bath cleaner killing that bacteria yesterday, just flaunting it? and did you see the magic eraser clean up that crazy kitchen mess? it was like super dirty, super clean. how? wish i hadn't. [ sniffs ] what's that amazing smell? it's mr. clean with the amazing scent of gain. wow! you know, if i had a team, you'd be on it. [ gasps ] our mascot could be a cleanosarus rex. you're off the team. [ male announcer ] dirt and grime have nowhere to hide with the mr. clean clean team on your side.
the subject matter is self-explanatory. they have stories about little kids and slightly bigger kids and the parents who love them and want to treat them well. but today things were a little different at "parents" magazine hq, because they along with facebook hosted a town hall with vice president joe biden. people posted questions for the vice president on the facebook page of "parents" magazine, and this moderator posed those questions to mr. biden, and he answered. >> claire fairish bremer asks does it make sense to provide armed guards for our schools like those that are provided for government buildings? do you believe that banning certain weapons in high capacity magazines will mean that law-abiding citizens will then become more after target to criminals? tessa gray asks should parents who don't have guns in their homes demand to know which of their children's friends have guns in the homes? >> i have "parents" magazine. i've never heard anybody in parents magazine ask these kinds of questions, but i'm delighted to answer them.
>> that's right. people do not usually ask those kinds of questions in "parents" magazine. the kinds of questions that do get asked in "parents" magazine tend to be like is home birth for you and is clean your plate a recipe for obesity. and this one is both a question and the answer. what time is it? it's baby time! that's the usual type of question that you get in "parents" magazine. but obviously nobody is going to say about their should i clean the plate, it's baby time questions for the sitting vice president of the united states. people are going to ask him hard questions. even in that john journalist-based facebook-moderated forum, they're going to ask him about guns in homes and armed guards in schools and the example of the war on drugs, right? well, this weekend president obama went to florida, played golf with some friends. also tiger woods, according to mr. woods, the president and him played as partners, and they beat whoever it was they were playing against. i do not know from golf. but even losing is probably fun
if you are losing to, like, the greatest golfer ever, let alone playing alongside him as mr. president did. tiger woods said they had a great time. not having a great time the press. the white house press corps is very angry about this weekend. fuming, incredulous that the president was there golfing with tiger woods and they were not allowed to watch. the white house press corps was kept out completely from the golf outing. the only journalist who got to go in was somebody from golf digest. one abc reporter calling it a disgrace. a fox news reporter saying there was, quote, extreme frustration. the president must be fearful of talking with them, them meaning white house reporters. the beltway press is seriously frustrated by what they see as their lack of access to this white house. but outside the normal interactions between the president and the press that covers the white house, the president and the vice president are putting themselves out there to answer questions about why a ban on guns would work when a
ban on drugs wouldn't? and should internet freedom be added to the party platform of the democratic party? should democrats take a stand on that? and this one, the mortgage interest deduction that helps people afford their homes. what is going to be happening to that? and will the white house take action to limit the abuse of software patents? would they, for example, support limiting software patents to just five years? those questions, those substantive questions about real policy issues, those came not from professional journalists covering the white house as part of their paid beat. those came from regular folks that the white house put the president in the position of being questioned by on twitter and at a google plus hangout. and the gun questions, before, those were from "parents" magazine readers via their facebook page. the professional press core plays an important role. no matter how you feel about the beltway media, you want the president and the vice president to get grilled by professional reporters answering to
professional editors operating in the proud tradition of the free and professional press that is good for the country. that is as good for the country as any other check and balance that we have for the nation. but as the white house press corps pines for more access, there is a thing that we're getting more and more of that we haven't had since whenever the last time was that presidents mingled among us without intermediaries, if there ever was that time. multiple repeated forums where regular citizens get to ask direct questions of the president or the vice president in a setting where you actually can expect an answer. it's not journalism. it is not a substitute for journalism. but there is something important i think to be found in the distance between the types of questions that are being asked by regular folks when they get a chance and the types of questions that are being asked by the white house press corps when they get their chance. that distance is a big distance. it is worrying about the press corps that those two streams of questions being directed at the white house from citizens and from the beltway press often seem like they are from two
news update from the great commonwealth of massachusetts. a few weeks ago, we reported that former senator scott brown was spending his very late night weekend hours tweeting out pugnacious little insults to his online critics. things like "whatever, bud." that soon turned into some other epic thing called bqhatevwr.
is that an indication that he is not of mind-set to be running again in massachusetts? finally, we have an answer from scott brown -- [ siren ] oh, sorry. i put a bullpucky alert on my phone, the app. can we just turn it -- can we just turn it -- it's the alert. come on, turn it off. turn it off. right. silly. it's a butt dial mistake. you sit down on the phone. keep that right there. so embarrassing. anyway, as i was saying about scott brown. [ siren ] >> it's not actually the phone. i think we have another actual bullpucky alert. do not be alarmed. actually, this is for real. we have protocols. we are well staffed. we have a bullpucky alert coming up. it is code 4.
more than 33 million people watched president obama deliver the first state of the union address of his second term a week ago today. that's actually a low number for a state of the union relatively speaking. but that just goes to show you what a giant audience that annual speech has if 33 million is a low number. but as it turns out, on the same day this was happening in washington, something else was also happening in washington, a secret meeting between the navy
s.e.a.l. who killed osama bin laden and nine members of congress. this navy s.e.a.l., who has never revealed his name publicly for obvious reasons was not there to divulge some new previously secret thing about the bin laden raid. he was there to talk about life after the bin laden raid, life after the bin laden raid for him and his family. this washington meeting with nine of the most influential members of the senate and the house, according to reports, was to discuss the difficulty that soldiers, and especially members of the elite special operations forces have in transitioning to civilian life. last week "esquire" magazine and the center for investigative reporting ran a lengthy profile of this navy s.e.a.l., allegedly the one that killed bin laden that included a lot of new details about the raid. he shot bin laden twice in the forehead as bin laden stood before him, and shot him once again in the same place after he fell. he says bin laden may have tried to use his wife as a human shield. he was holding her in front of himself or moving her in front of himself when he was killed.
he said the cia analyst who briefed him on the compound told him she knew with 100% certainty that bin laden was on the third floor of the compound, which he was. the s.e.a.l. says that after the raid was over, he gave that cia analyst the magazine from his rifle, which was still full, except for the three bullets he had expended into mr. bin laden. so the further details on the raid and the people who made it happen, those are new details. but the part of the story that got the follow-up on capitol hill on state of the union day, the follow-up on capitol hill for the man who killed bin laden with nine members of congress was the part about him leaving the navy, leaving the special force, leaving the military altogether, and how hard he has found it to get by ever since. hence the title of "esquire's" interview with him. quote, the man who killed osama bin laden -- dot dot dot -- is screwed. when he leaves after 16 years in the navy, his body filled with scar tissue, tendinitis, blown disc, here is what he gets from his employer and a grateful
nation. nothing. no pension and health care for his wife and kids, no protection for himself and his family. once the story was published there was some controversy about whether "esquire" made a factual error when they described his benefits. it turns out he is entitled to benefits for five years, but none for his family. they clarified that. like many vets, he will have to wait at least eight months to have his disability claims adjudicated. the national wait time nationally is more than nine months. the center for investigative reporting analyzed the wait times for 58 veterans affairs offices across the country. they made this interactive map with the data that they found. what they discovered was that many vets are waiting way longer than that nine-month national average for their disability claims to be processed. in new york, the average wait is 412 days. in oakland, california, 427 days. in waco, texas, veterans are waiting on average 441 days. in phoenix, it's 451 days. in los angeles, it's over 500
days. so almost a year and a half veterans in los angeles are waiting just for a preliminary answer from the va. waiting while in some cases they are unable to work, hence the disability claim. a year and a half. just waiting to hear back about whether that claim is going to be accept order denied. wait until you have to appeal. you've heard before about this backlog, right? how the government is blowing it on keeping this promise that we made to the people who signed up to serve. what is amazing, now, in a bad way, is that the b it is getting worse. at the start of 2012, it was taking six months or so, 188 days for the va to resolve a claim that was by the start of the year. by the end of the year, we had gone from six months to nine months. 262 days. 262 days of checking the mail, logging into your account, checking your e-mail, waiting to hear back. in september of last year, the wife of one iraq war veteran posted a video to youtube that she titled the va doesn't care.
in the video, she said her family had filed her husband's disability claim when their baby was six weeks old. around the time of their child's second birthday, she said she was tired of waiting to hear back. she posted the video. the video garnered enough attention online that the va responded to her with their own video. but look at the response. >> recently the spouse of a veteran posted a video to youtube asking many of the same questions we often see from veterans, their families, and survivors. so we thought this was a really good opportunity to respond so veterans don't feel like they have to post a video to youtube just to get information. personally, i understand your frustration. i'm an air force veteran. my husband is marine corps veteran, and both he and i have claims that are currently part of the backlog. >> you're part of the backlog too and you work there? they can't even fix it for you? the va spokeswoman went on to say that the long wait times are unacceptable, that the va knows they're unacceptable, and they're working to make the process more efficient and more
accurate. that back and forth happened last year, and that family that took their complaints to youtube did eventually get their claim resolved. i don't know about the spokeswoman. the va, of course, has promised they'll try to do better. well, just this month, the center for investigative reporting found that the va is making so many errors when it processes veterans claims, and the backlog of claims is so long that 53 veterans are dying every day now while they are waiting to receive word on their disability benefits. these are veterans of all wars, veterans of all ages. but 53 every day. and that is not just some weird way of parsing the statistics to make a shocking-sounding statement. it is so common for american veterans to die while waiting on their disability claims that there is an alliterative phrase that people use to describe it. they call it "delay, deny, wait till i die." quote, the common refrain we hear from many veterans is delay, deny, wait till i die. that's a quote from congressman jeff miller. he calls the backlog on benefits claims a national embarrassment.
delay, deny, wait till i die. what we're talking about here is a paperwork problem, and a bureaucracy problem. it's a problem about which the speed at which paperwork is processed. it is not a sexy-sounding problem. however, sexy we think all things associated with navy s.e.a.l.s are. but this is a problem that really specifically hurts the men and women who do the hardest job that we as a nation can ask anyone to do, and that in many cases we lionize for their service. we just don't make good on their promises that we made them while thanking them for what they do. we are hurting them and their families by not getting this right. the va says their transition to a paperless system has experienced initial bumps that have worsened the problem for now, but that it will get better with time. they say advances in medical treatment and body armor mean more soldiers are surviving injuries and returning from war, and that's a good thing, but that their system has to catch up with the increasing numbers of folks who need help once they come back from war. they are trying to catch up, and they are failing worse and worse
all the time. president obama mentioned veterans twice during his state of the union speech last week. his administration has made veterans a priority. first lady michelle obama, jill biden have made veterans and their families a very high profile priority. the president did not have to mention osama bin laden in the state of the union this year because osama bin laden is dead thanks to the navy s.e.a.l.s. the man who killed osama bin laden has some ideas about what the government can do to help men and women like him as they are coming home. he told members of congress who met with him in secret, they had to meet in secret, he can has a plan to help make things better. joining us is aaron glantz, with the organization that coreported with "esquire." he has spent seven years covering the war in iraq and what awaits iraq and afghanistan veterans. the war comes home, washington's battle against america's veterans.
aaron glantz, thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> my pleasure. >> what do we know about the meeting between this navy s.e.a.l. and members of congress on the day of the state of the union last week? obviously his identity has to be shrouded for safety reasons. but do we know if he had a receptive audience when he met with these members of congress? >> what members of congress and their staff told us at the center for investigative reporting is they're very moved. here is the guy who killed the most wanted man in our modern history, and he came to them and he apparently didn't talk very much about himself. he talked about the other people in his unit and the 820,000 other veterans that like him are waiting on their disability claim. and a lot of them are in a lot worse strait than he is. and so he spoke about that. he spoke about the difficulties of finding a job after you leave special operations where all your work is classified. you can't exactly sit down at a job interview and say hey, i just killed osama bin laden, give me a job. it's all classified.
all this is very, very moving, i understand, and as you mentioned, he met with senior members of congress from both parties, the chair of the house -- the chair of the veterans senate affairs committee and other leaders. >> is there anything we know that might be a concrete change that could come out of these discussions? obviously he is a guy who speaks from a very specific perspective, and he will have the ear of anybody who he can arrange to speak with because of what he has done and who he has been associated with. i think a lot of tier 1 operator veterans feel that way, that they have political capital. the nation is very grateful and very respectful what they have done. there something specific that he wants changed or that they want changed that might make a dink difference in the kind of problems they identified? >> i think the problem is that the members of congress that the shooter was speaking to are also at their wit's end with this. you know they have appropriated more money to the va. they have heard the president of the united states say the right things about veterans, and yet at the same time, the problems that are facing these iraq and
afghanistan veterans when they come home are getting worse and worse and worse, to the point that even if you kill osama bin laden, you're stuck in the same backlog. and he has literally gotten letters from the va since he filed his disability claim in the fall that say basically, don't call us, we'll call you. just hold it. so they put more money towards this problem. the va says they're going to computerize claims. but we at the center for investigative reporting found that after four years and half a billion dollars, the va has only processed 75 claims electronically. and so if you're a member of congress, you want to solve this problem, you can't actually force the va. what can you do? you can hold hearings. you can pass laws. but it's really up to these administrators to get on the ball. >> and this is something that i can't believe hasn't become more -- fact that we went through an election year where we had this basic debate i can't believe this didn't become more of an issue. i don't want things to become partisan for that purpose. but the political will is there.
it's just not working. aaron glantz, thank you so much for being with us. i appreciate it. and i've been following your work for a long time. thanks. >> thank you. >> aaron's book is called "the war comes home: washington's battle against america's war veterans." we'll be right back. [ female announcer ] going to sleep may be easy, but when you wake up in the middle of the night it can be frustrating. it's hard to turn off and go back to sleep. intermezzo is the first and only prescription sleep aid approved for use as needed in the middle of the night when you can't get back to sleep. it's an effective sleep medicine you don't take before bedtime. take it in bed only when you need it and have at least four hours left for sleep. do not take intermezzo if you have had an allergic reaction to drugs containing zolpidem, such as ambien. allergic reactions such as shortness of breath or swelling of your tongue or throat may occur and may be fatal. intermezzo should not be taken if you have taken another sleep medicine at bedtime
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we are one week away from the first national election since the presidential race. well, at least the first federal election since the presidential race. and we have news to report about that race. it is for congressman jesse jackson jr.'s seat, where he resigned. whoever wins that primary tonight is widely expected to win the seat. that is why, at the outset, 17 democrats said they would like a chance at the seat. 17, it got less crowded when the illinois state senator, toy -- toi hutchison dropped out of the race, on friday, the pac launched this ad, calling out toi hutchison, due to her rating with the nra. the other frontrunner under pressure from the pac is
congresswoman deborah halvorson, who responded to the ads regarding gun safety, there it is the second page, gun control and gun safety. debbie halvorson also looked into the district with the ads against her. lest there is any doubt in the primary, this is the candidate that the super pac endorsed last week. this is who the pac endorsed against the two candidates who had the ratings. look at her website, robin kelly's campaign is centrally, almost totally now about her commitment to leading on gun safety. gun policy is the central point of this race at this point, which is, after all, our first federal race since the shootings since sandy hook.
there has not been much polling, but based on what we see so far, the contest looks like robin kelly running on gun reform, almost single-minded focus on gun reform. against the number one rating, who says she wants to talk about gun control. one week from today we'll keep the election music close at hand. [ female announcer ] imagine skin so healthy, it never gets dry again. can your moisturizer do that? [ female announcer ] dermatologist recommended aveeno has an oat formula, now proven to build a moisture reserve, so skin can replenish itself. that's healthy skin for life. only from aveeno.